Friday, 28 February 2014

53. Island Men

I remember being at secondary school and never being able to grasp why my female peers would always seek a companion or three for a visit to the bathroom. I also remember the many occasions when I would happily sit in a room with another person, completely silent, and feeling no obligation to engage if I had nothing to say just for the sake of engaging.

"No man is an island." John Donne's famous words would wash over me, because I didn't understand why it was considered so impossible to live a life of total introversion and still do significant things and feel contented at the same time. Although I am largely an introvert (according to Susan Cain's Quiet, at least) and still exercise many of the habits mentioned above, I have realised that there is no harm in building new and old friendships, and concerning myself less with the events in my own world and more with those relating to the people around me.

Donne continues: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..." Do you think that it is wrong to consistently act in an introverted or enclosed manner? How does introversion or inward behaviour serve as a detriment to one's own (if at all)? If we take Donne's words literally, I could even contend that the majority of us are "island men" on a much larger scale - our concerns lying outside of our selves, but stretching only as far as whatever lies in close proximity. How many of us would rather ponder over our weekly timetables than reflect momentarily on the outbreak of civil war in Kiev? As "parts of the main", should we not then "borrow [others'] misery" - or, at the very least, endeavour to understand or to enquire why our neighbours mourn or rebel or fight or suffer?

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